- Nick Friedell, ESPN Staff Writer
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DEERFIELD, Ill. -- After spending 11 years in the league on some bad teams, Mike Dunleavy Jr. is happy to finally find himself on a club that has championship aspirations. The Bulls do things different than most -- and Dunleavy likes the approach.
"The way guys come out and practice with intensity each day, the professionalism, the guys sticking after to work. I've had a hard time finding a basket to shoot at after practice because there's so many guys getting extra work in," Dunleavy said after Sunday's practice. "I've never been in a situation like that. It's a good thing."
The reason for that constant intensity is Tom Thibodeau, who sets a tone for his team that all follow. The Bulls' front office has made it a point to bring in players that carry themselves in a professional manner -- and can handle the screaming that comes along with any game or practice that Thibodeau coaches. For Dunleavy, the experience of being around Thibodeau reminds him a lot of his former college coach, Mike Krzyzewski.
"(Thibodeau's intensity) is higher than anything I've played at at the NBA level," Dunleavy said. "Very similar to going back to college and (playing for) Coach K. It just doesn't matter if you're playing against each other in practice, a preseason game, regular season game, you need to bring a high intensity and you need to get better every time.
"I'm kind of on board with (it). There's no point in going through the motions. If you're going to come in here, you might as well get your work in and do it right."
That's a mantra that Thibodeau has been preaching since he arrived in Chicago three years ago. And that's why it should come as no surprise that even as his team enters Monday's tilt with the Milwaukee Bucks with a 5-0 preseason record, Thibodeau still isn't happy with the way they've been playing of late.
"It depends on what your standards are," Thibodeau said regarding his philosophy. "The first day of camp if you went to all 30 teams, everyone would say, "Yeah, we want to win a championship." And then very few teams are willing to make that commitment over a long period of time of putting the necessary work into it each and every day. It's easy to say it, it's hard to do it. I think that's the great value of guys like Carlos (Boozer) and Luol (Deng). They come in every day and they work -- and Derrick (Rose). So we got to get back to doing that."
It's obvious when hearing him speak that Thibodeau is trying to motivate his team to perform at an even higher level. That's something Dunleavy, who spent the last two years playing in Milwaukee, appreciates.
"I measure everything whether it's being done at a championship caliber level," Thibodeau said. "Whether it's your preparation, how you practice, how you conduct yourself in the weight room, how you conduct yourself in a film session, how you conduct yourself on the bus. There's a lot that goes into winning it, and so you got to be willing to pay the price."
On Sunday, the price came in the form of a practice that lasted almost two and a half hours. It's a price that the 33 year-old Dunleavy and many of his teammates are willing to pay at this point in their careers in order to win a title.
"Don't get me wrong, it's hard work," Dunleavy said. "You've got to come and get your rest and you've got to bring it physically and mentally every day. It's a lot of work, but hopefully at the end it will be a reward."